1871 – Egerton Ryerson, head of Ontario’s school system, instituted the provincial Education Act that made school attendance compulsory in Ontario. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed an Act entitled “Act to Improve the Common and Grammar Schools of the Province of Ontario” dealing with the subject of compulsory and free education between the ages of 5 and 20 in Ontario.
1980 – Bill 82 introduced Special Education Act in Ontario detailing the rights of special needs students to free and appropriate education.
1982 – Amendments to Bill 82 mandated maintenance of student information (Ontario Student Records – OSR) and documentation of certain decision-making processes.
1990 – Regulation 298 stipulates that exceptional students whose needs cannot be met during a full day in a classroom with a range of full day options (eg. regular class with resource assistance in the form of individual or group instruction).
19?? - All schools must establish an Identification ,Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) for the purposes of identification and placement of exceptional students.
1998?? - Regulation 181/98 IEPS must be developed for students identified as exceptional
???181/98 – Transition plan must be included for students 14 yrs of age and older for transition from secondary school to post-secondary studies, work and community living
1996 – Education Quality and Accountability Act (EQAO) established for grades 3, 6, 9.
??? - Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) established.
1996 - Ontario’s Educational Accountability Act – Teachers ordered to resume extra-curricular activities when they assumed an extra class.
2001 - Safe Schools Act (SSA) is established in Ontario. School boards have the right to enact Zero Tolerance Policies as answer to violence in schools.
2006 – Inquiries Act states that the Minister of Education has the right to request a Teacher Induction Program Report from Ontario school boards , Part X.O.1.
The Provincial Government and the Ontario Education Act
The Ontario Education Act defines responsibilities applicable to the Minister of Education, school boards, superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents and students. Basic duties of these parties include:
Sets policies and guidelines for trustees and directors of education
Sets requirements for student diplomas
Prepares lists of approved textbooks and other learning materials.
determine the size and location of schools
Provide educational programs that meet the needs of the school community
Managed allocated funds provided by province
Hire teachers and other staff
Administer the school budget
Maintain student records
Assign teachers to classes and supervise their performance
Prepare lesson plans and teach classes
Evaluate student work and progress
Maintain classroom discipline
Attend classes and take exams
Exercise self-discipline and behave respectfully towards peers and teachers
ensure their children attend school between ages of 6 and 16.
Case Studies of Dispute Resolutions in Ontario Education
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Safe Schools Act Bill 81 (1981) is presented as discriminatory against students with special needs according to Commission’s Guidelines on Special Programs.
Commission declares that removal of youth with behavioural needs from school is an affront to their dignity and basic right to attend .
Suggested that Ministry of Education provide appropriate training to educators to deal effectively with students whose disabilities may cause them to be disruptive.
Suspensions and expulsions increased in Ontario since the enactment of zero tolerance policies in school boards resulting in several lawsuits and tribunals through both the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Ontario Provincial Courts.
In July 2005 the Human Rights Commission reached a settlement with Ontario Ministry of Education that schools will promote safety while ensuring that students with disabilities and racialized students are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The Ministry has agreed is to:
Acknowledge that zero tolerance has a disproportionate impact on students from racialized communities and students with disabilities.
Consider applying progressive discipline rather than suspensions and expulsions
Provide access to alternative education for expelled or suspended students
Acquire significant training for educators and administrators on anti-racism and anti-discrimination
Support collection of data on expulsions and suspensions and make this data available
Report to the Human Rights Commission annually on its progress in implementing the agreement
Substantive Education Law addresses how the facts in a case will be handled, or the “ substance ” of a case. In order to do so with fairness and impartiality all facts must be presented to whomever is presiding over the substantive case. Oftentimes an administrator of a school decides a substantive case regarding such issues as student and teacher misconduct or allegations of such. Teacher unions also play a role in the investigation of substantive case law. It is imperative then that administrators and union organizers are highly familiar and trained in handling substantive law under the Education Act of Ontario.
A 2007 revision pertaining to substantive law under the Education Act was enacted after a number of cases involving cyber bullying using the social media “Facebook” among students against their peers, teachers and administrators.
If an administrator or union representative is unable to resolve a substantive case then it is referred to the Ontario courts as a procedural case .
Procedural law addresses issues such as the rules of legal process and of procedure when enforcing a person’s rights and obligations. The rules of procedural law relate to “fairness and transparency of process”.
The Education Act of Ontario covers many types of procedural law. Some examples include the maximum legal age for beginning public school attendance (6 yrs); ages 12 yrs and older include provincial offences such as refusal to attend school (“skipping class”); at14 yrs the right to leave school or to attend on a part-time basis with parental consent and supervised school board approval; depending on when a student’s birthday falls s/he has the right to leave school at the age of 15 or 16 yrs; and at 16 yrs and over a youth can work during school hours.